Day three, or four
Sometime ago, I wrote a blog post about the origins of the word Wednesday, and its nickname. Reading it again, I was surprised about some parts. Nevertheless, having written what I already have, today I took a broader view on the days of the week.
How do we have days, weeks, months and years? Who came up first with the idea of making a calendar?
Before diving into history, let’s take a quick look at the word calendar.
In the Roman Era, calends marked the first day of the month, when accounts were settled and debts were collected. The Latin word calendarium means ‘account book, register’. To Middle English, the word came from Old French.
Planets, moons, and stars
Earliest evidence found of timekeeping was dated to 10,000, or more years ago. Some of these structures might have been built to keep track of the sun or the moon as it was changing its course through the sky.
The Sumer civilization was the first to use writing; the year having twelve lunar months originates from these early settlements and cities. In accordance with the diversity of beliefs and religious practices throughout Sumer, months and days were not named but numbered, with holy days and days for rest celebrated on the first, seventh and fifteenth of each month. Additionally, each city would have feast days, varied by region. The Assyrians started to attribute the names of the visible celestial objects to the days of the week, and the system was disseminated by the Babylonians to East and West.
The Zoroastrian calendar, which is directly based on the Babylonian, has twelve months of thirty days, each attributed to a yazata, a divinity that is worthy of worshipping.
In ancient China and Egypt, a month was divided into three ten-day periods. The use of the seven-day calendar in China wasn’t introduced country-wide until the 20th century.
In Vedic-era India, Jyotisha was the practice of timekeeping to fix the time and date of rituals. The origins of this study are debated, some say it developed independently, others claim to have derived from Mesopotamia around the 5th century BC. The name Budhavāsaraḥ, the Sanskrit equivalent of Wednesday, derives from the sanskrit word budha meaning Mercury, a wise or learned man, or dog; and vāsara meaning day, time, or turn.
The Mayan calendar had two different year cycles. One (Sacred Round), had 260 days, composed of thirteen-day cycles; the other (Vague Year) had 365 days, 18 month each of 20 days, each with a distinct name. The two cycles coincided every 52 years; such a period was called a bundle and was used as a concept similar to a century.
In modern times, the most commonly used calendar worldwide is the Gregorian calendar, which is in fact a modification of its Julian predecessor that was put in effect on 1 January, 45 BC, in Rome by Julius Caesar, and was predominantly used in the Western world until 1582. The average length of a year became 365.2425 days from 365.25, to avoid gaining an extra year, every 128 years. In the English names for months, also the Roman tradition is being preserved. The rest I save for another post.
2021. Július 09.
Today is called szerda, in Hungary. Close to noon, the thread of mercury on the porch climbs past 30. In front, the garden is full of life, colour and sound. Hornets are especially active today; the sound they make overblows the rest, almost like a small engine. They can be as big as your thumb. A dreadful animal, full of life, colour and sound.
Elderflowers are having a good year, the fragrant smell is brought around by a gentle breeze. Tomorrow the flowers are to be picked, cleaned and soaked in water with lemon for at least a day, then mixed with a syrup (1:1, water/sugar) to eventually make a delicious soft drink called bodzaszörp, elderflower cordial.
A type of sage is blooming purple flower blossoms on the side of the little bank, not far from the lemongrass and peppermint.
A perfect day to spend in front of the screen.
Today is also the day of water, the planet Mercury, the god Hermes, the 160th day of this year.
In the Book of Genesis stands:
[1:19] And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
[1:20] And God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky."